Ballinglass Incident - Domaine Public

The Ballinglass Incident

Ballinglass Incident - Domaine Public

par Guide Irlande

The Ballinglass Incident is an episode of the Great Famine (1845-1849) when more than 300 Irish peasants living in the village of Ballinglass were evicted from their land by wealthy British landowners who wanted to raze the village to build a grazing farm. The Ballinglass Incident was one of the terrible excesses committed by the British on the Irish during the Great Irish Famine.

History of the Ballinglass Incident

Background: The Great Famine impoverished the Peasants

The Act of Union signed in 1801 allowed England to formalize the creation of the United Kingdom, a kingdom composed of the Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and the Kingdom of Ireland. From then on, Ireland became part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of Irish land was acquired by wealthy English landowners.

The Irish farmers were then reduced to mere tenants of the land, and had to give most of their production to these owners, except for potatoes, which allowed the farmers to subsist by feeding themselves on it or selling it to the local population. All the rest of the production was used as rent to the owners, or was exported to England.

Unfortunately for Irish farmers, a pest (late blight) attacked potato fields as early as 1845, leaving the whole of Ireland unable to provide for the local population. Very quickly, the population experienced what would later be called the Great Famine (1845-1849): the population starved to death.

Because of bad potato harvests, the peasants could no longer sell their produce and became bogged down in debt and misery . Unable to pay the rent to the rich English landlords, the peasants were driven from their land and homes.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of Irish families were evicted from their homes during the Great Famine (1845-1849).

The Ballinglass Incident

The village of Ballinglass (Co. Galway) was affected by these evictions. While the peasants of the village still managed to pay the rent, the 300 inhabitants of Ballinglass were evicted on March 13, 1846 at the request of Mrs. Gerrard, a wealthy British landowner who wanted to establish a grazing farm in the exact location of the village .

In order to massively evict the inhabitants of Ballinglass, the British army and police came to destroy the houses of the village. Without roofs over their heads, the inhabitants decided to sleep in the ruins of the village on the first night. The next day, the police and the army went there again, this time to expel the population for good…

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